Men's Basketball Season Ends in NCAA Tourney
Mar 6, 2015
STEVENS POINT, Wis. - The University of Dubuque men's season was halted in the opening round of the 2015 NCAA Division III National Tournament on Friday night. The Spartans hampered by costly fouls and cold shooting lost to Illinois Wesleyan 53-72. The Spartans finish the season with a record 23 victories, best in school history.
A good crowd of Spartan fans made the journey north to support a team which marched through the IIAC Tournament with three straight victories to earn the automatic berth. UD's Andre Norris would be called for two quick fouls which sent the junior to the bench for a better part of the opening half.
Just prior to halftime, Lucas Ware was sidelined and stopped the game momentarily after his face made contact with a Titans defender's arm and blood would have to be cleaned up before he could return or the game restarted. Ware would be taken to the locker room and return in the second half looking more like a lightweight ultimate fighter with his nose stuffed with gauze, but the senior rallied back to lead the Spartans in scoring with 13 points and collecting nine rebounds.
Brandon Ferguson finished with a dozen points and IIAC MVP Andre Norris added nine points and 11 rebounds. The Spartans struggled offensively shooting a chilly 28.2% (20-71 from the field). Senior Gage Heffernan would play a total of just 15 minutes after ending his night early after garnering his fifth foul at 5:59 left of the final half of action. The additional timeouts in tournament play appeared to upset any flow of the game and discouraged UD from finding their groove in the loss.
The Spartans out rebounded a taller Titan squad 47-45 and UD would out score IWU in the paint 26-24. UD held a slim advantage in points off turnovers 8-6 and in 2nd chance points 8-7.
UD trailed in scoring at halftime 24-37 and would be out scored in the second half 29-35. The Spartans finish their 2015 IIAC Tournament Championship season with a 23-6 overall mark.
"This team achieved winning tournaments in Minnesota, Colorado, and the IIAC Tournament, cutting down the nets in front of a packed house, tonight just wasn't our night," commented coach Robbie Sieverding. "I give Illinois Wesleyan credit, they have been here before and they were the better team tonight. We just couldn't get into a flow offensively and we played through some foul trouble and we just were not in sync."
Sieverding added, "This has got to be one of our worst shooting games of the season, give credit to them (IWU), their big kids inside held their ground and alot of charges were called tonight where you couldn't get to the rack, which is another way they protected the paint."
The Spartans graduate six standout seniors who have all impacted the UD basketball program. UD will return MVP Andre Norris next season for his senior year in 2015-16.